tv Washington Week With Gwen Ifill PBS February 22, 2013 9:35pm-10:00pm EST
exist. >> a debate that is just beginning. covering the week, john harwood of cnbc and the "new york times." david sanger of the "new york times." molly ball of the atlantic, and sari horwitz of "the washington post." >> award-winning coverage and adge sys, covering history as it happens. live from our nation's capital, this is "washington week" with gwen ifill. corporate funding for washington week is provided by -- >> we know why we're here, to chart a greener path in the air and in our factories. >> to find cleaner more efficient ways to power flight. >> and harness our technology for new energy solutions. >> around the globe the people
of boeing are working together to build a better tomorrow. >> that's why we're here. >> additional corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by prudential. additional funding is provided by the annenburg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. once again live from washington, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: good evening. congress wasn't even in session this week. yet the fight over spending and debt raged on. with a march 1st deadline on the horizons democrats and republicans sparred about who would be blamed if budget cuts go into effect. the white house used its superior bully pulpit to grand effect. today we heard from the president and ray lahood, the
cabinet's lone republican. >> what i'm trying to do is to wake up members of the congress on the republican side to the idea that they need to come to the table, offer a proposal so that we don't have to have this kind of calamity in air service in america. >> lahood said air traffic and safety would be drupted. defense secretary le onpennetta said the nation would billion less safe. republicans say it's overblown. how much does the public really care, john? >> well, it's a big deal. but it's not as dramatic as a government shutdown where everybody can see that the washington monument's closed. you left out one, the interior department said that visitors to national parks will find locked restrooms in many places. talk about the hammer coming down. look, it's one of those things that the effects will build over time.
airline waits will get longer. and this is one of the things that people who want a long-term budget deal including the president including some republicans want top happen because the public which favors spending cuts in the abstract, the more they see actual consequences if they've got to wait longer if that feel less safe, if they think that the federal prosecutors aren't going to be on their job as president obama said, then they'll put more heat on the two parties to come together and make a deal. gwen: is march 1st the date or is march 27th the real date that we should be watching? >> they're sort of a rolling crescendo of deadlines because you have march 1st where the sequester would take effect those indiscriminate budget cuts. maverpblg -- march 27th is when the government runs out of money. unless they pass legislation the government -- that could be a more dramatic effect.
though both sides say they will take that off the table. at some point in the spring or summer, i expect that the two sides are finally going to decide that they fought long enough. the public has simmered long enough, that they'll have negotiations and make a deal. but we're just not there yet. >> one of the reasons that this deal came together -- was the theory that republicans would never want to see the defense budget cut as sharply as it's going to be, 7% or 8%. i don't hear many republicans sounding very concern about the defense cuts. can you say why this is? >> first of all, there are being cut, talking about $50 billion. >> sure. >> some republicans who respect districts that are very defense sensitive are complaining about it. but generally speaking republicans have decided that this is their hammer right now. they gave tax increases at the
enof the year to president obama -- end of the year to president obama. now it's time for spending cuts. this is a fail-safe way that they're going to get spending cut and they're going to live with them. democrats don't like that discretionary spending will be cut as well. president obama has been warned about the effects on teachers, federal subsidies for teachers on head start on meat inspections. all sorts of domestic functions of government the democrats believe in and that all americans believe in. but the problem is unless you can prove to a public that is pretty skeptical of government those real consequences, it's hard to put effective heat on republicans to say, hey, raise some more taxes. >> john, how long do you think this could last if goes into effect and who would feel most of the impact? >> i don't think it will last all year. i think there will be a deal some time in the spring or early
summer. and i think that deal will happen when you get negotiations on entitlement programs between democrats and republicans. republicans will find a way through the process of tax reform which involves closing loopholes to lower rates but also to use them to reduce the deficit. that is all going to come together and i think turn off these automatic cuts at some point. it's hard to say when. but the biggest dollar impact is going to be as david and i were talk a moment ago the pentagon. the pentagon gets hit harder than domestic departments. >> so much of the dialogue is finger pointing. who do you this will get blamed? >> the blame for the sequester is ridiculous. the congress passed. the president signed it. they all own it. they all got it. >> that was the point. >> that was the point.
both parties consenting adults, knew that they were designing something that was designed to be so bad that it produced a deal. it's just that they haven't been able to get to the deal. in terms of who is winning the message ordinarily, it's a little hard to say. president obama has got the high side. he won the election. the public tends to support if you lay out all of the policy positions support where he's coming from, taxing the rich. but the idea of cutting spending is a very popular idea and republicans are riding that at a moment. gwen: except this new pew research showed that people weren't much for anything. it was hard to know whether it was because they don't like the idea of a sequester or because they don't believe washington -- >> they may have heard how stupid of an idea it is and that washington is going to go through with it anyway. >> gwen: there you go. there are new studys that say we
are more vulnerable than we thought. >> there are two companies affected by trade secret theft, those who have been compromised and those who don't know it yet. >> it turns out if you're in washington and you've been hacked -- we are in the middle of a cyber world. it's a culprit according to a detailed report by american security firm is the government of china. david sanger has covered this extensively. so what have we learned. >> the report was done by a company called mandian. we first met them in new york when they first came in to see who had been lurking in the "new york times" computer systems. a chinese entity not the one we ended about write about this was going in looking for sources. but "the wall street journal",
the washington post, it's hard to find an institution that wasn't. the group that we wrote about this week was -- is known in the hacker world as comment crew. and what mandian did, the security firm here in the d.c. area was track back all of the forensic areas including unique addresses for a number of these commuters. it all came back to a single neighborhood in shanghai all to a big modern airport that the chinese have built and a unit of the people's liberation arm their cyber university equivalent of our national security agency has this big three-story building -- gwen: coincidentally. >> you have to believe that they're operating from inside that building or from the noodle shops around it. the chinese government denied they had anything to do with
this. but this made it harder for the obama administration which is try to avoid directly criticize the chinese in public even though they raised this many times in public. >> you know, let me ask you a question about another cyber story. you broke a big story on a virus in iran. and there was a lot of consternation about this story and a big leak in the story about how you got the information. how is it different than what china is doing to us? what happened to the leak investigation? did you get subpoenaed. >> we think that's still going. you raise a fascinating question, which is if the united states is doing this, how can we often criticize other countries? the u.s. doesn't admit to owning
cyber weapons either just as the chinese don't. it makes it very hard to put together rules about how you would use cyber or not if nobody will admit to have the weapon. at least in the nuclear age we knew who had the weapon. we did, the soviets did. in this case, the american position is that the u.s. never uses any weapon that it has to support individual american corporations and yet the chinese for most of the hacking we've seen, not all but most seem to be going in to get trade secrets, industrial secrets, processes, things that would enable them to keep trying to grow at 6% or 7%. the u.s. uses its cyber tools the way it did in iran which is to mess up the iranian enrichment of uranium, sort of another way of doing ordinary covert action. >> so is the goal of what the
chinese seem to be doing to under aspects of the u.s. economy for competitive reasons as opposed to affirmatively trying to harm u.s. corporations, take down their operations which one might interpret as an act of economic warfare? >> no one as yet seen a case where they really try to bring things down. there have been some worries in cases including one we wrote about called televent that controls the pipelines in the chinese and the ones that run in mexico. they may have gotten about how those valves run. the p.l.a. are an army but they have huge interests in these industries in china. so it's not completely above them to want to steal the industrial secrets for the companies that keep the p.l.a. budget alive. >> so it's another way of pursuing american intellectual
property in >> by and large, that's it. when you heard attorney general holder an others announce a program this week, it was to avoid, you know, intellectual property theft. they almost never use the word cyber in the course of that. there are all kinds of way to steal intellectual property. >> you mentioned this as an undertakes of the chinese military. what do we know the civilian leadership knows? >> this is a great mystery because many times and american officials have raised this with civilians. they say we know nothing about it. we don't think our army knows this. so the question is is the army acting on its own or by orders? gwen: what might happen as a result? >> it's going to go on for years. gwen: thanks, david. two months after the newtown massacre that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults something unexpected occurred. the debate over gun violence is
till going on. on capitol hill in state houses in city halls and in gritty political campaigns the discussion about gun violence is going strong. >> they say it isn't about guns. they're wrong! it is about guns. [applause] let me say at the outset to all the press -- no law abiding citizen in the united states of america has any fear that their constitutional rights will be infringed in any way. none, zero. >> i don't think washington politicians trying to score political points should be taking away a fundamental individual right, a right the supreme court has said every law abiding american is guaranteed by the bill of rights. gwen: as part of our pbs
initiative, after newtown, we turn now to an assessment to where the debate stands. molly, is the policy debate different this time? >> it feels very different. as we just saw, we had the vice president just this week speaking in connecticut making sure to use that white house bully bull pit to keep this -- bully pulpit to keep this discussion going. you had the president's former campaign apparatus now known as organizing for action. organizing a day of action -- gwen: today. >> today trying to mobilize that grass roots army that the obama campaign turned out so successfully, turn it towards this issue. this is the one issue that we are targeting at this time and really try to put pressure from the constituent level on lawmakers to make the move on this, to not let this be another missed opportunity where the issue falls off the radar as it so often has in the past.
gwen: is the same thing happens outside of state capitals or outside of washington? >> it is happening outside of washington. nearly there have been hundreds of bills introduced in legislatures across the country. this is an excel spread sheet of all the bills introduced since newtown, hundreds of them. half a dozen to each page from california, to new mexico to illinois, to connecticut, to new york, to colorado, we're seeing legislation that mirrors a lot of what we're seeing on the federal level. assault weapon checks, background checks, some kind of limit or ban on high capacity ammunition magazines. it's interesting because i interviewed industry -- gun industry commeck actives and gun rights advocates who seem to be more concerned about what's happening across the country than really they are about congress. molly, one of the things that
we've sheard there are some measures that are popular enough, background checks, limiting the magazines but not the assault weapons ban. do you share that view? is that not going to go through the congress? and what's changed from 1994 when it did until now? >> i think it's almost definitely true that the assault weapons ban is not going to pass. we're not going to see an assault weapons ban. we've seen democrats on this issue, harry reid, senator lahey, talking pretty dismissively about the assault weapons ban. gwen: to weapon ban of any kind. >> right. although the magazine restrictions, they still appear to be on the table. the background check measure is astro nomically popular with the government, something like 90% of the people supported it including n.r.a. members.
it seems to be a bit of a clever tactic to give some moderate politicians a way to try angulate on this issue so they can say i'm not for the assault weapons ban. that's extreme but i do support this lesser measure even though the irony that something like expanding background checks has the potential to affect a much broader potential policy impact in terms of the number of gun crimes. >> you said a number of n.r.a. members are in favor of the background checks. we haven't heard the n.r.a. say they're in favor of it. are they backing off on the background check issue? >> at least in public, they have not backed off at all. this is a bit of a flip flop for them. back in 1999 the last time this issue was debated, the n.r.a. did come out in support of expanded background checks. this time they've taken a hard line. they say the reason for that is that they've studied the issue and concluded that background
checks don't work. but in terms of their public posture, the n.r.a. has take an hard line -- in fact, there was a commercial run during the super bowl highlighting the change in the n.r.a. stance and they took a softer position. >> go ahead. >> i was going to say if there were background checks in major states would that force the legislation at the federal level? >> not necessarily. it's interesting. the university background checks it's the sweet spot about what's politically possible in this environment right now. and we're seeing even, you know, new groups start, americans for responsible solutions. and their main focus are the background checks. , both in state house and on the federal level. gwen: let's go to colorado which had some action this week. what did they do? >> here you have a state that's a western state, conservative, independent, purple state. they passed four bills in the
house. and these bills for, universal background checks, assault weapon ban, high capacity magazine limits, all these national level issues. these bills goes to the senate now. everyone expects them to pass. colorado, of course, has lived in the shadow of columbine and aurora. but still it's a very interesting bell weather state to watch. >> when you look around the map, do you find that progress at the state level tends to happen in blue states and not so much in red states? >> it depends what you mean by progress. i think the n.r.a. would have their having lots of success in red states on their proposal. a lobbyist said, we're going to kind of wait until the connecticut affect subsides with their agenda. and so they are a bit. but in red states we're seeing
them push legislation for people who have concealed carried permits to not have to have the permit. and to allow guns to be carried to bars, parking lots and restaurants. you're seeing that on their agenda. gwen: i wonder if the language, molly, that is changed. i don't hear even gun control groups using the term gun control. >> absolutely. it's a bit of a problem for them that they haven't come up with a better term that is catchy enough to really dominate the discourse. for example when the vice president unveiled the conclusions of his task force and the president also spoke, neither of them used the phrase gun control a single time. rather dozens of time they said gun violence prevention. that's been one of the preferred euphemisms for this. and the reasoning is when a lot of moderate to conservative voters hear the word "control," it sort of -- it triggers a
reflex in conservatives that sounds like the government controlling your life. it sounds like taking guns away, controlling guns. so there's been a real effort among progressives and among gun control advocates in particular to change the way we talk about this, to try to put those fears at ease, to say to people nobody's going to take your gun away. gwen: michael bloomberg has been out there getting involved in congressional races and actually trying to count ter n.r.a. is the fighting ground more even? >> that's what bloomberg is trying to prove in this special congressional election, illinois is actually the second time he also dumped a burge of money into a california race successfully last november. we just learned today that the n. ramplet is sending mailers to try to counter bloomberg in that congressional election. but bloomberg's idea and gaby gifford's idea is to provide a
counter weight because for so long the n.r.a. has had the playing field has scared lawmakers. gwen: final thoughts, sari, it's happening in state and city councils. >> that's exactly right. lots of action in tuesdayson, arizona where gaby gifford's is from and where i'm from. they want to prevent gun shows if everybody's not going to do background checks. gwen: and in washington, they're banning gun shows. bit by bit this is spreading. it's going to be very interesting to watch. thank you, everyone. the conversation has to end here but we'll pick up in the "washington week" website. we'll sort through the president's immigration proposal. you can find that at pbs.org /washingtonweek. next week, a big voting rights case at the supreme court and a
confirmation vote for chuck hagel, finally. we'll explain it all next week here on "washington week." good night. >> corporate funding for" washington week" is provided by -- >> we asked people a simple question, how old is the older person you know? we gave people a sticker and had them show us. we asked them to show us someone who lived into their 90's. but one thing that hasn't changed is the official retirement age. the question is -- how do you make sure you have the money you need to enjoy all of these years? >> additional corporate funding for "washington week" is